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tv   John King USA  CNN  August 8, 2011 11:00pm-12:00am EDT

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about the famine and the need to put an end to the destruction in smal yax we'll have her on the program tomorrow. no, john king with "john king usa." good evening. a dismal day on wall street as the market processes bleak realities. the embarrassing downgrade of the u.s. government's once-stellar credit rating. the dow dropped 635 points or 5.5% and closed below 11,000 for the first time since november. the s&p down nearly 7%, as was the nasdaq. add it up and on paper, the market loss $1 trillion, with a "t" in the massive selloff just today and overall stocks now down 15% over the past few weeks. a few more down both numbers. not from the markets but our news cnn poll. 60% of americans think the economy is still on a downturn and getting worse, way up from the 36% that felt that way in
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april. 75% of americans think things in the country are going badly and 1 in 3 americans approve of how president obama is handling the economy. the market slide began well before the friday night decision by standard and poor's to downgrade the government's credit rating but now, that's part of the fear and funk driving trading and the downgrade, center stage as the deficit debate here in washington enters a new chapter. >> we knew from the outset that a prolonged debate over the debt ceiling, a debate where the threat of default was used as a bargaining chip, could do enormous damage to our economy and the world. that threat, coming after a string of economic disruptions in europe, japan and the middle east, has now on the markets and dampened consumer confidence and slowed the pace of recovery. so all of this is a legitimate
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source of concern. but here's the good news. our problems are eminently solvable. and we know what we have to do to solve them. >> a lot to digest tonight beginning with what is driving the markets down and how it impacts your bottom line. >> the downgrade is part of the problem. what we've seen over -- 13% lower. let me get my numbers right. in the past five trading sessions. an incredible selloff. in large part, due to concern that the u.s. government would not deal with the debt problem. due to the dysfunction in washington, that's a big problem. s&p following through with its word which it advertised for months to go ahead with the downgrade. certainly part of the problem lending to concern. the economy is weak and you add
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it all together and you get panicked selling days like this one. >> and you also have this cycle where there's no room for a time-out. when i say good-bye the asian market also be opening. what should we look for as this tends to go from market-to-market to market around the world? >> you're completely right about that. it sure does. i was looking to try to figure it out because in the next hour we'll get the asian markets opening. we'll get some key information out of china. china has become the focus. not just of what they're doing with american debt but their economy being the second biggest in the world and the real driver right now. there's going to be a lot of data coming out of china's economy on the other hand and that could be really important. real negative surprises could completely set the tone even more negative than it already is and tomorrow, john, you have the fed. that really is going to be the most important thing in the next 24 hours for the markets. >> you say the most important thing. what options does the fed, the american central bank, what
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options does ben bernanke have at his disposal right now? >> it would not seem like many because interest rates are pretty much at zero. but the fed has options and there's a couple of things that ben bernanke, chief of the fed, needs to be thinking about. he wants to calm the market so he needs to talk about economic growth. perhaps he could weigh in on the key statement tomorrow that the fed releases. he could weigh in there about the potential for a double-dip recession. if he says he doesn't see that sort of thing happening despite the key slowing we've seen in consumer spending that could go a long way to calming the market and he could give more clarity to the fact that the fed is opened to doing more. we know there's been a lot of extraordinary measures by the fed so it's good for him to end can that he could do more but going ahead with that right now might not be the best idea. showing the fed panicked after a day like today and that's not what the market wants. >> thanks, erin, excellent
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perspective. and now an economist that was part of president obama's team. christina romer. >> you see what's happening on global markets, on a scale of one being no and ten being likely, how likely in your view is another global recession. >> i'm not even going to give you a number. i think what is true is the risks of a recession have clearly gone up substantially. i think one of the things i keep saying is -- people are too much obsessed with the difference between really lousy anemic growth and literally, a decline in the economy. both of those things are terrible. and we should be just as worried about getting our economy and the world economy going with where we are now as if we were falling again. >> and so the president came out today and tried to reassure the markets and reassure the american people and he called on congress to not only get about
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the business of the super committee and find additional deficit reduction but he wants to extend the payroll tax, infrastructure bank. i'm not criticizing them i'll leave them to the political debate but in terms of commissieconomics are is it fair to say those are the edges and margins and you need something bigger and grander? >> those proposals are good, solid proposals but i do think you need something bolder and grander. were i advising the president i would say take the next couple of weeks and make the case for something even more substantial, like a very large tax cut for businesses that actually hire people. or let's really do a serious amount of infrastructure investment and tie that with a very, you know, even more serious deficit reduction, gradually over time. i think that's the kind of a
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bold policy measure that we need and i think that's what the president needs to articulate. we're not going to tinker around the margins. we're going to do something really big and really substantial. >> the politics of washington and certainly the politics of the s&p downgrade are getting better, deeper, bolder, deficit reduction. this super committee is charged with coming up with another $1.5 trillion, with a "t" over the next five years. should they go for three? should they go for four? >> i think absolutely. we had on the table, the grand bargain of trying to get $4 trillion of deficit reduction. even that doesn't really solve our long-running deficit problem but it makes a lot of headway. that's the kind of number that everybody was looking for, hoping for and we came in two or $2.5 trillion. so that super committee should do more. i think right now, of course,
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the deficit plan passed mainly, you know, it puts goals for cutting discretionary spending. any expert will tell you, reforming entitlements and slowing the growth rate of medicare spending and social security spending, that's got to be on the table and i think any expert will tell you realistically, more revenues have to be on the table and absolutely, those two things ought to be added to the charge to that super committee. >> when something like this downgrade happens it's unprecedented and a lot of americans sit around the kitchen table and say -- what does this mean for me? they hear the government costs are going up. you were on the bill maher program on friday night when they was breaking but he used language that he used. you can't find it in an economic's textbook. >> excuse my language we used to do a segment called how [ bleep ]ed are we?
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i didn't expect that there but -- just before we went on the air they said -- they said our rating got downgraded. >> pretty darn [ bleep ]? >> ew. >> it was a comedy moment but not a funny thing what happened. sman what you mean by that though, in family-friendly english, about people are pretty darn what? >> well, certainly it was more colorful than i would normally be and it was a late-night comedy show. and actually what i was referring to is the much broader issues. certainly, the dawngrade is sort of another shock to the economy, another bad thing to be happening to the economy. but it comes on top of just months of weakening economic statistics. it comes on months of realization of just how severe our long-running deficit problem actually is and it sort of all comes together with a political
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system that doesn't seem to be able to dole with those problems and it's the combination of all of those things that worries me about the future of the american economy. if we don't solve our terrible, anemic growth and our long run deficit problem it's very hard to see how we provide for our people and how we remain our stature in the world economy. >> appreciate your time tonight. >> great to be with you. >> david gergen is with us. this is a leadership moment. the president called a couple of european leaders and european markets are in turmoil. the u.s. markets in turmoil. the american people wondering if and when the chi will get better but over the weekend, washington went into the typical blame game. here's david axle rod, the president's political adviser. >> the fact of the matter is this is essentially a tea party downgrade. the tea party brought us to the brink of a default. >> no. here's an e-mail from the up
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national committee. it's obama downgrade. how are we going to get past this to get to the next step? to get an agreement on deeper deficit reduction and god forbid, maybe some sort of an adult conversation about jobs and growth, if washington immediate lid just starts pointing fingers? >> john, the blame game, the partizan wrangling, that's what's helped to get us into this fix now. everybody knows that and people are disgust around the country with the politicians in washington. words don't matter much anymore. the president came out today to reassure the country and the dow jones was down 409 when he started speaking. it wound up today after this talk, it wound up with a loss of over 630 points. clearly what people are looking for is something stronger. looking for action. i think the president's question now, the congressional question is the president needs to get the congressional leaders back to washington, not the whole congress but congressional leaders back in washington, and cut a deal about jobs.
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get this economy growing. not on the debt right now. we need immediately some sense of hope about jobs and give reassurances that there's going to be more investments. corporations are sitting on a ton of money in this country. there have to be ways to get them to invest in the future. >> we'll discuss the darkest hours of the obama presidency. in one night, the united states was losing its top credit rating and then word of the deadliest attack in the afghan war. what this dawngrade does and does not mean for your personal finances. y to learn as much as i can about a company before i invest in it. that's why i like fidelity. they give me tools and research i can't get anywhere else. their stock screener lets me search for stocks with more than 140 criteria. i can see what their experts are thinking and even call them to bounce an idea off of one of their investment professionals. a good strategy relies on good insight.
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♪ i really should have taken my shoes off before i got weighed. [ female announcer ] you've got a lot on your mind. that's why every walgreens prescription goes through a 10 point safeguard check that reviews your current walgreens health record for allergies and potentially harmful drug interactions. [ kate ] i can do this. [ female announcer ] the 10 point safeguard check from walgreens. there's a way to stay well. there are several credit rating agencies that rate your credit. there are also several credit ratings that rate the united states. fitch and moody's kept the united states at aaa. standard & poor's dropped the united states from aaa down to aa plus. that drops right here. this has been the big controversy of the last 24 hours. so where does the united states compare on the s&p scale anyway at aa plus? the uk, germany and canada have aaa.
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belgium and new zealand now with the united states. china a aa minus, japan as well. what does this mean for you and your bottom line? ali velshi with us tonight as is joanne litman. for somebody who says is my mortgage going up, credit card rate going up, we didn't see the impact in the markets today. we saw a lot of turmoil in the stock market, but the bond markets were pretty favorable. >> yes. you would have expected that in fact your mortgage and other loans would be affected by this, but here's what happened. a mortgage in the united states, particularly a fixed mortgage, is tied to a ten year note. the ten year note actually costs the government less money to borrow if ten years today than it did on friday. the effect of the downgrade hasn't actually been negative. and part of that is because when you look at all the other options, there is so much u.s. debt that people who otherwise
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would buy it can't really take some of those other aaa options. so the reality is that today the ten year is lower than it was on friday and your mortgage rates aren't actually going up as a result. that's not to say what's going to happen in three weeks or three months and frankly our mortgage rates are so historically low right now that the long term trend probably will be up, but for now, for all the effect that had on the market, it didn't have it on interest rates. >> joanne, obviously people watch the volatility and worry about their 401(k). is there anything anybody out there should be doing, changing their own personal behavior, should you put off a big purchase if you're about to buy a house or car or should you just go ahead with your lives as is? >> yeah, this has been so devastating for so many people. and i think even more so than the impact on interest rates, which has been nonexistent so far is the impact on people's 401(k), on their savings, on their portfolio. it's just devastating. so if people can afford to not
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make any money, that's the best -- make any moves right now that's the best thing they can possibly do. you mentioned the housing market. interest rates are still at historic lows. it's very possible interest rates won't go up. we have seen this before. there is a precedent for you in japan, australia, canada, their interest rates have not gone up. so if you're thinking about purchasing a house, so many areas have been so hit hard by the housing slump, plus the interest rates at historic low. if you needed to buy a house, it's maybe not such a bad idea. that is okay. >> so ali, how long does it take and what do you have to do now that you've been dumped down to aa plus, what do you have to do to get back up to aaa? >> could take several years to get back. s&p specifically when asked this question told me that a couple things could help. there are two reasons for down grading were the fact that the deal to lower -- to get the deal
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done wasn't actually big enough. so if congress and the super committee were actually to either cut more or raise more revenue between now and christmas, you may see an upgrade as early as next year. and there has to be some sense that congress can agree to do something together. the climate that caused this debt ceiling to be held hostage is something that was very, very worrisome to s&p. so the climate has to change, they have to get a better deal. and i don't think those two things are likely to happen prior to 2012. >> appreciate your help. we'll call on you again. still to come here tonight, saudi arabia and other arab nations finally condemn the bloody crackdown in syria. and anderson cooper gets a firsthand look at a devastating famine in somalia. no, it's just for new people. hey ! chocolate, vanilla or strawberry ?
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pledging an additional $105 million to the urgent humanitarian effort under way in the horn of africa. where 12 million people are in desperate need of food and water. anderson cooper is there this week for a firsthand look. anderson is with us now live from a massive refugee camp. at kenya's border in somalia. you're getting a firsthand look at this devastating crisis. tell us what you're seeing.
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>> reporter: this has become the largest refugee camp in the entire world. you can actually see it from space. it's extraordinary. there's more than about 500,000 somalis who are living here and in the surrounding areas around this camp desperate for food aid, many displaced people, more than a million of them, more than 100,000 are desperately looking for food. according to the u.n., about 3.2 million somalis are in immediate need of food assistance, immediate need of assistance. and the fear is with the drought continuing for the next couple months before the rains come and with this terrorist organization al shall banal shall al shabab and the worst drought in 60 years. and the famine continues to
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spread from small pockets in the south to the entire southern part of somali. so it is a desperate situation for many here. aid has been slow in coming. this was a predicted drought. this has been on the radar of a lot of folks in the aid community for many months. and yet there is still not enough in the pipeline, not enough food, not enough money being addressed to meet the immediate needs of so many people here. >> when you say the immediate needs, there's obvious frustration there that this is taking so long for the world to react. is there one thing most in demand that anybody watching could try to help? >> reporter: aid organizations will say money is the bottom line. money allows them to get supplies, them to fly in food and water and help people long term develop agriculture that can prevent this kind of thing in the future. it is -- it really is a desperate situation here, but
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mainly inside somali and that's where we'll be reporting from for the next two nights. >> anderson cooper for us. on the somalia/kenya border. they'll be there throughout the week to get a sense of this. and you'll want to watch beginning tonight, "ac 360" moving to 8:00 p.m. in the east. you won't want to miss that coverage. still ahead here after months of silence, leading arab nations are suddenly pressuring syria to stop the deadly crackdown. why the change? and will president assad listen? gas and bloating. with three strains of good bacteria to help balance your colon. you had me at "probiotic." [ female announcer ] phillips' colon health. [ male announcer ] this is our beach. ♪ this is our pool. ♪ our fireworks. ♪
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main new develop in syria's political crisis. after months of silence, leading arab nations are calling on the syrian regime to end the bloody killings of it own people. saudi arabia, bahrain and kuwait announced their pulling their ambassadors from damascus and spoke of what he labeled the "killing machine." let's take a closer look. after the king's announcement, these are syrians celebrating. living in saudi arabia. celebrating the denouncement of the killing machine. unfortunately, the killing machine continues. look here. i'll play this out. listen closely. [ gunfire ] >> sounds of machine gunfire there. the regime cracking down against demonstrators. and here in the north, a funeral procession.
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the regime opening gunfire on a funeral procession. tracking the crack down from beirut. >> saudi arabia criticizing the killing machine. saudi arabia, bahrain and kuwait recalling their ambassador. any indication the shift to arab condemnation will get president assad to back off? >> reporter: well, at this stage, there's been absolutely no such indication, but this most certainly is a significant move in that arab leaders are finally breaking what was a deafening silence on their part. but really, john, as long as syria has in iran the sole hid so lid relationship that it does have, iran being a regional powerhouse, it seems as if what we're going to see now is a
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shift in the battleground in syria and that it will no longer 'just be demonstrators calling for democracy versus this dick ta tore yal engine. but one that analysts are saying is increasingly going to morph into an arena for the broader. regional power struggle. you'll have saudi arabia on one hand and iran on the other. >> and what's your sense what's happening on the ground? is the crackdown more isolating or is it spreading? >> it's most certainly spreading. the crackdown now not just confined to the intense military campaign that we saw taking place. it most certainly does continue. but also moving to the east up against the iraqi border. on sunday morning, tanks stormed in again firing indiscriminately, snipers station order rooftops. families being absolutely terrorized.
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there are also reports of a similar military campaign in the north. so it increasingly seems to be turning it back on reforms and instead using brute force. >> and if you tune into syrian state tv, it says they're pulling out. what do your sources tell you? what's the reality on the ground? >> reporter: they say that it's a lie. shortly after we heard that announcement on syrian television, i spoke with a number of residents all of whom said that the crackdown was still ongoing. in fact they were telling us how syrian security forces were going house to house with a list of names of wanted activists. and if those individuals were not present, they were detaining their family members. >> arwa damon for us. thank you. so what motivated saudi arabia and other arab nation nations to finally speak out? and will it make a difference.
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"rage and rebel onin the islamic world." we've spoken about this several times. why the silence in the arab world. now you have criticism. i assume king abdallah, bahrain, don't want regime change. that would reflect poorly on their own countries. what do they want? >> when you ask about king abdallah, you have to remember his title is custodian of the two holy mosques. this is becoming a religious question. they have have violated the holy sanctum of friday prayers and i think for the king of saudi arabia, being the senior statesman in the region, being the eldest, a man in his late 80s, he said my conscience can no longer bear this and finally the silence has been broken and other people followed the
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leadership of the saudi monarch. >> silence has been broken. the monarch finally speaks out. not the most credible regime when it comes to the treatment of your own people and openness to speak publicly, but yet it is custodian of two holy masks. mosques. will it make a difference? >> probably not short term. but the fact is you have four gulf countries that have aban danned the assad regime. but this is a striking development because saudis are normally very discreet. king abdullah is the only son of one of the founders of saudi arabia. and that particular wife. he's been the one they've used for over a generation. when there was tension with syria, they would use him to go in and try to mediate between the two countries. so this plays out on a lot of different levels. >> and you talk about the religious implications here. but when saudi arabia and the arab nations pressure syria, i guess my question is, might the result be counterproductive in that assad
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would turn more to tehran? >> i think assad has become a satire of iran. there's a big difference between assad father and assad the son. the old man was an ally of iran but on his terms. assad has no other ally other than iran. his relations with turkey has deteriorated. even the russians are beginning to talk to him about his legacy, about reform. and i think the reliance for iran is total for him. and one thing that's interesting, the people have gone out chanting in the treats streets of syria, saying, no iran. we want muslim who is fear allah. so i think in fact you have a standoff in the region between this isolated syrian regime with iran backing it and the rest of the region. >> makes an interesting point, the difference between father and son. you were in the region back in the '80s.
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what's the difference? >> i think the father actually had a vision. we might not have agreed with it, but he had a broader plan to make syria a great nation again. the son inherited power. he was not to be the heir apparent. his older brother was supposed to be the successor and he died in a car accident. so the younger son has not ever had the kind of ideas, the concept, the way to recreate syria as an important player in the region. he just said no, he says no to the peace process, he tries to meddle in lebanon. he's been a player and a spoiler much more than his father had. >> and yet schooled in london, gives speeches about reforms. you write in your book, the administration also appeared to be betting on the assad dynasty which ruled in damascus for four decades. there's a different leader now. secretary of state hillary clinton said. many of the members of congress in both parties who have gone to syria have said they believe he's a reformer. she's known as a pragmatist. she gets good reviews as
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secretary of state, but was she snookered? >> and i think the administration was in general. the united states has been willing to push democracy all the way across north africa. a little bit into syria. but not do anything beyond words. there's a joke and we all say it must be friday, another pronouncement from the administration. and there hasn't been a lot of tangible action beyond minimalist sanctions. >> so how do we get to that next step in the sense that the administration has said he's lost legitimacy? the president of the united states has not come out and flat outside, he must go. you don't have an arab league statement, but you at least have arab leaders getting involved in the criticism. how do you build to the next level where you get what has happened to mubarak? at least you have the world community turned and say -- you must go! >> there you have it. i think president obama and
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secretary clinton is dreading the fact that they've come out against the league because they may be forced to do something they haven't done before which is to repudiate this regime. to consider it an outlaw regime. they've sold us on the idea that syria is important for stability, but giving iran access all the way to the mediterranean, he has become the great destabilizer and i think our administration has been a little too slow to understand the nature of this regime. >> appreciate your insights tonight. we'll stay on top of the story. it is important and fascinating. up next, 30 americans killed in the deadliest day of the nearly decade-long war in afghanistan. we'll map out just where it happened and discuss what it says about the plan to begin drawing down u.s. troop levels. [ male announcer ] this is lisa, who tries to stay ahead of her class.
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tonight two military transport planes are flying the remains of 30 u.s. and eight personnel who died saturday when their helicopter was shot down. because of the catastrophic nature of the crash, all remains are on the way to the united states for identification. the defense department said we will not be allowed to cover the return of those remains. ' among the dead, 22 navy s.e.a.l.s including aaron vaughn
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whose wife kimberly spoke with cnn. >> i want to tell the world that he was an amazing man, that he was a wonderful husband and fabulous father to two wonderful children. he was a warrior for christ. and he was a warrior for our country. and he wouldn't want to leave this earth any other way than how he did. >> with us now, fran townsend who advised president bush. now on the external advisory board of the cia. and also, brad theechorr, went several research missions in afghanistan and pakistan with navy s.e.a.l.s. fran, the large -- most deadly at being a in the history of this ten-year war. i want to show our viewer where is it took place. this is in some of the most treacherous. what does it say as we pay tribute to these heros that this is still where a lot of the hardest parts of this war are
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being fought? >> well, it tells you a number of things. first of all, this is right on the outskirts, not very far from kabul. the capital. kabul was the last perimeter, if you will. it was the sacred ground that our troops protected. mostly to give the karzai government the opportunity to extend their reign, their government. this is very close to the capital. this is an area that has been handed over to afghan troops. this was an immediate reaction force that was coming in because we had personnel on the ground in need of assistance and so you had u.s. soldiers as well as afghan commandos. and it tells you that the gains that we make there are very fragile. so as we begin this drawdown, you realize that these gains that we have made at the loss of life and treasure are easily erased if we do this too quickly. >> i know you're familiar with these types of operations. first, it's important, i want you to listen to how the
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president in paying tribute to these heros today described the state of play in afghanistan. we don't have. the president said i know the troops will continue the hard work of transitioning to a stronger afghan government. brad, on that point, do we really have -- george w. bush talked about this for years. barack obama has talked about it now. i'm not blaming either president. but ten years later, do we have an afghan government that is ready for this challenge or is the answer, no, and that's why these tragedies keep happening? >> the answer is absolutely no. the afghans are in no position to defend themselves. the afghan government is completely corrupt and it's riddled with iranian spies. there's a lot about the killing, the terrible tragedy of these s.e.a.l.s being killed that is very disturbing. >> and when you look at this, brad just mepgsed iranian spies. should we be worried about iran tonight or because of where this is up here, i'm not discounting
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the importance of any iranian relationships, but there to me based on the history is a pakistan issue, not necessarily an iran issue, right? >> well, that's right. except to brad's point, we have seen an increasing amount of iranian involvement and support in afghanistan. and, oh, by the way, they have been spoilers inserting themselves into afghanistan and undermining u.s. efforts. the iranians don't always come in the front door and oftentimes they work through proxies and insert themselves into a cause americans and american forces difficulty around the world. we saw it in iraq, but we see it in places like afghanistan as well. >> if i may, i was going to say fran's analysis is always spot on. it's why i enjoy watching her so much. i'd like to add that there's word out that what took down this helicopter might be what's known as an iram known as an in-proper advised rocket assisted mortar. we first saw these in iraq with iranian fingerprints all over them and that's why i'm so
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concerned. they call these things in the military flying ieds and we don't have confirmation of what brought the helicopter down, but that and the fact that the iranians have so penetrated our forward operating bases and around the country of afghanistan. it makes me wonder the taliban, they're good, but i don't think they're this good. i really think this thing is the fingerprints of iranian cooperation on it. >> an important point. as i show on the map here, the dark reddish area is where the taliban is strongest. orange they have limited support. when you look at this ten years into the war where the surge troops with still mostly there, the president wants to start bringing them home. about 99,000 troops in afghanistan right now. does this tell you that we are at a point where we can actually have a security transition or is bringing troops home more of a political transition? >> let's call it what it is. it's a political transition. the president ran on drawing down in afghanistan and he's trying to keep true to that
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promise before he faces re-election in 2012. now, that's not to say we have to look at this strategy and when you consider that we're ten years out and that the taliban perhaps with the support and assistance of other proxy, other terrorism supporter, are able to launch this kind of attack, deadly attack against our nation's most elite forces, we have to ask ourselves really honestly about what progress has been made or not been made. i think brad's exactly right. afghan troops are not up to this. that's patently obvious. and the level of corruption in the afghan government is another issue that really be devils us. >> i'll get e-mails but i want to make clear a little bit of a misspeak there. he said he would bring home troops in iraq, but the president actually promised in 2008 to fight the war in afghanistan. brad, you think it's a mistake to acknowledge these navy s.e.a.l.s, they were not the same men involved in the bin laden raid, but the same unit. you think it is a mistake to acknowledge this was a s.e.a.l. unit.
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why? >> i'm a chicago guy. i know bill daley. we don't always agree on politics, but i like the guy personally. bill daley ought to be enraged tonight. we went and we got osama bin laden with s.e.a.l. team 6. every taliban member. every taliban member. every enemy of this country should quake in their beds at night afraid of s.e.a.l. team 6. coming to get them. we handed a propaganda victory to the them and said there was s.e.a.l. team members. why couldn't we have said it was american personnel. why let the enemy know and help them take down this helicopter? whoever leaked this, whether it was done with permission or whatever. heads should roll. this is unforgivable to leak that to the media. >> when we come back, we'll stay on this story in a different way. president obama receiving word of the deadly raid just hours after being told the united states government was having its credit rating downgraded. being president can be a lonely job. [ female ] we will always be dependent on foreign oil.
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friday was the darkest day of the obama presidency. in the evening came word that standard & poor's was for the first time in history, downgrading our credit rating. then devastating news from afghanistan.
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30 americans dead including 22 navy s.e.a.l.s in the deadliest attack of the nearly decade-long afghan war. it is the most powerful job in the world but it's often been said, it can be the loneliest. david gergen is with us. he has served four american presidents at times of crisis. also, mary matalin. as america launched the wars in both afghanistan and iraq. david gergen, i want to start with you as someone who has been in the white house, often brought in in times of crisis. am i overstating it, the darkest day of the presidency to hear about the downgrade and then hours later, this horrible tragedy in afghanistan? >> i don't think you're overstating it. this past week i think was one of the toughest, perhaps the worst weeks the president has had. the markets fell so sharply even as he announced the debt ceiling agreement and then he had the friday, saturday, and then this weekend. and so it is tough.
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but i think the president discovered today that words alone are not enough. he tried very hard to reassure investors, as you know, he came out this afternoon and when he spoke, the dow was down around 400. by the end of the day, it was down 600. he has to go beyond words. he has to take some actions now. i think to reassure americans. the real, one of the real problems with what happened today is it can spook consumers. it makes people fearful and that can hasten a double dip. >> mary, take us inside the white house. i know you're a republican but take us inside the white house when you have to go to the president of the united states and deliver the worst. the worst, i assume, is american military casualties overseas. it is the most powerful job but also pretty isolating, isn't it? >> it is isolating, but i had the great good fortune to work tap with men with the breadth and depth of experience. not just in the 9/11 george w. bush white house but with dick
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cheney and george herbert walker bush. so this experience can put these big shifts in context. that's really important. as david knows, so you don't react. you're not in a responsive mode. you're trying to convey leadership and confidence. and particularly in this situation right now, it is, i'm echoing david. people have lost their greatest source of wealth, their home equity. they've had their savings, their investments wiped out in one fell swoop. there is no confidence that washington can function at any level and this president is not conveying, not just by the the absence of talking about deeds. there is something about he's not coming across with. and i'm not saying that as a partisan. i'm pretty spooked myself down here with two kids in high school and retirement staring us in the face.
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but it is, it's isolating. you can't be subjected to political posture ing or aides that want to put you in a political situation. something david said earlier on your show tonight concerns me, too, about this. he is surrounded by more, with political people more than economic people. there is nobody really inside the white house that is on an economic team now. that has to be spooky to the investor class as well. >> and david, what is it like to walk into the oval office at a moment like this? maybe you have to tell the president horribly bad news or maybe as both you and mary are saying, you need to shake the president a little. i don't mean physically but say, the way you're doing it isn't working. we have to reconsider. >> it's important for the president to maintain an outer confidence and a smile. and that helps a lot. ronald reagan and other presidents have shown that over the years. and i think the president has done a good job of that. but it is really important inside to be taking a hard look at what is not working and what is working. and my judgment, by the way, the republicans bear an awful lot of blame for where we are.
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not just the president. but in my judgment, what the president needs to do now is to bring in the congressional leadership. republicans and democrats, and see if they can't cut a deal on jobs. it would be so helpful, not about the debt but concern about the jobs. the president has some things on his agenda. the republicans have things on their agenda for what would create growth. cut a deal. show people they can actually work together without all the finger pointing and acrimony and give people confidence that people, that the politicians in washington who were disgusted folks around the country, give them confidence. we'll come together and put aside our petty politics in 2012 and try to get something done in the next few months. >> mary, you mentioned george h.w. bush, that is when i first met you. you were working for him. he ran a campaign that he tried to convince people the economy was doing better. it didn't work. people didn't believe it. i see a rot of similarities. how hard is that? heading into a reelection


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